After initially defending a $500 contribution to Mayor Olga Velazquez, the Portage Economic Development Corp. has decided to ask for the money back.
PEDCO Executive Director Bert Cook said the group decided not to exercise its right to lobby with up to 20 percent of its annual expenditures and will amend its bylaws to prohibit that type of activity in the future.
"We never did it in the past and don't want to do it in the future," he said.
If PEDCO, as a nonprofit organization, would exercise its lobbying rights, it would have to pay excise tax on the money spent for that purpose, Cook said.
Cook continued to defend his group's intention in attending the Sept. 19 golf outing, which was to network with the city's business and community leaders.
Velazquez said Wednesday she had no problem returning the money, but it's not up to her campaign to determine if contributions are appropriate or legal.
"The onus is on the donor," she said.
Velazquez had returned $3,500 last month to the NorthShore Health Centers and $1,000 to Arnell Chevrolet in Burns Harbor after discovering the contributions potentially violated campaign finance laws.Velazquez' excuse that it isn't up to her to determine if campaign contributions are legal or appropriate is laughable in this case. She sits on the economic development agency's board of directors and should understand that it is essentially the economic development arm of the city government she runs.